November 8, 2017

Fall Floral Warm and Deep

Last week I used a combination of purchased flowers and homegrown fillers to create some fall floral arrangements.  The shot above features roses, alstroemeria and purple kale from the grocery store, plus foliage from garden baptisia, scented pelargonium, purple honeysuckle, and curly willow.  I also used seed pods from 'Coral Charm' peonies and cimicifuga. 

This larger arrangement consisted of the same flowers above, but arranged for viewing from all sides instead of just from the front.

Aren't the sunset colors of these roses pretty?  I only grow old-style David Austin roses at home, but sometimes it's fun to work with regular hybrid tea roses.

Another arrangement made use of a vase from my grandmother, who was also a gardener.  It used to seem very out of style to me, but now gold is coming back.

A short centerpiece consisted of purchased mums and kale mixed with garden asters, lemon sage, and more peony seed pods and honeysuckle. 

October 30, 2017

The Colors of October

This fall has been a good one for fiery color in the garden.  Some years we get hard frosts so early that the colors don't develop well, so I'm always glad for a good year.  In the photo above you see the orange-red fall color of the 'Royal Raindrops' crabapple trees across the back, with yellow leaves of 'Caesar's Brother' Siberian iris down below.  The 'Fine Line' buckthorns at center are slower to change color, though they'll turn gold before shedding their leaves next month.

This photo from a week or two earlier showcases the yellow color of the neighbor's aspen trees.

The violet and lavender asters stand out  against the yellowing foliage of the Siberian irises.

I almost pulled this aster out a few years ago because it was spreading too quickly, but the bees are glad I just moved it to denser soil instead.  This plant has been covered with bees ever since it started blooming.

I bought this 'Popcorn' viburnum for its hydrangea-like flowers in spring and compact size (compared to other Viburnums), and the fall color is a bonus.

The fall color superstar is my Korean spice viburnum, though.  Fragrant flowers in spring are followed by glossy green foliage in summer and a carnival of color in October.

'Stella d'Oro' daylily leaves add some nice straw-yellow before collapsing.  These plants even put out a few more flowers this fall.

This shot of the honey locusts is from early October.  I wish they didn't drop their leaves so early, but at least they put on a nice show of true yellow shifting to golden-orange before dropping their little leaves.  Their color contrasts nicely with the deep purple color of the 'Hall's Purple' honeysuckle on the swing set.

September 26, 2017

Early Fall Fullness

Recently my husband and I spent a couple of days on the western side of Washington, and I felt so happy in the lush forests that I came home wanting to plant more trees in my eastern Washington backyard.  But after taking the photos for this post, I realized I probably already have plenty of trees (my husband is sighing in relief since he digs the tree holes).

It has only been four and a half years since our newly landscaped backyard looked like the photo above.

Now this shot from a similar angle shows the growth.
I'm not done planting, though.  There is room for many little filler plants among the large trees and shrubs.

This is so much better than plain lawn.

In another view of the same bench as the previous photo, you can see the new post of our patio cover.  In a couple of years it will be covered with a climbing hydrangea (H. anomala petiolaris).

This shot from the second floor shows my efforts in using different foliage colors for contrast when few flowers are blooming.  Baby 'Boulder Blue' fescues at bottom left look like polka dots now but should fill in well next year.  'Obsidian' heucheras were also planted this year to bring maroon leaves down to ground level and echo the 'Royal Purple' smoke bush at center and the 'Royal Raindrops' crabapple trees at top.

Some foliage colors are unintentional, like the iron deficient hydrangeas above.  I'm about ready to give up on these unblooming 'Let's Dance Big Easy' hydrangeas.  After a rough winter and long spring with plenty of late frosts, not a single bloom appeared on my six bushes.  Our late frosts just don't mix well with mophead hydrangeas.

Because of those late frosts, all of my butterfly bushes had to be cut down nearly to the ground in spring.  You see at the right of this photo that they bounced back just fine.  Tall, showy 'Ava' agastache is visible at the top center.

In this picture 'Shasta' doublefile viburnum in the northeast corner is just starting to turn maroon for fall.  Last weekend I fought a battle with aspen roots in this corner.  During the landscaping project years ago, we had a 5' deep Plexiglass barrier installed in the ground to keep the neighbor's aspen tree roots out of my garden, but we piled the bark too high last spring and the roots jumped right over the barrier and colonized all the way out into the lawn.  My son and I have been working to pull out the shallow roots and move the bark away to uncover the top of the barrier.

In the opposite corner, the foliage of 'Caesar's Brother' Siberian irises is very dramatic this time of year.

The whole corner is filled with a sweet fragrance from the 'Black Negligee' cimicifuga plants in bloom at center right.

The west side of the backyard is filling in so you can't see all the neighboring houses very much anymore.

At the base of these crabapples I've planted more plants with interesting foliage, including 'Diane's Gold' brunnera, 'Eola Sapphire' hostas, 'Dicksen's Gold' bellflower, 'Chocholic' cimicifuga, and 'Evergold' carex.

I'm going backwards today, as this is the view of the backyard as you enter through the gate.  The contorted filbert at right put on a lot of new growth this year.

I'll end with this photo of the front yard.  You see it's the time of year for 'octopus arms' on the roses.  Soon the fall colors will be on display before another long Spokane winter, so I'm soaking up the green views while I can.

September 19, 2017

Annual Gardens at Spokane Temple 2017

Here are some photos of the Spokane LDS Temple annual gardens from August.  The spiral bed above (named for the spiral Juniper topiaries) features 'Lighthouse Purple' salvia, which was a new plant this year and a great performer.  It's always interesting to see which plants really take off, as it's different each year.  The 'Purple' superbena was also very vigorous this year.

I chose to use several foliage plants for season-long color, including 'Wasabi' coleus, 'Blackie' sweet potato vine, and silver licorice vine.  'Orchid Charm' supertunias and black petunias contributed blooms along with 'Profusion Double Cherry' zinnias.  I was not pleased with the performance of 'Summer Jewel Lavender' salvia, whose flower spikes looked washed out in bloom and quickly turned brown.

'King Tut' papyrus continued as a favorite at either side of the front door.

The front sidewalk beds outside the gates included deer resistant zinnias, salvia (which struggled due to watering issues early in the season), verbena, licorice vine, celosia and geraniums.  I also used lime sweet potato vines, which the deer like to munch, so we inserted several Deer Fortress canisters around the area.  They contain dried blood which humans can't smell but which does a pretty good job of keeping the deer away.

The northwest corner was planted in sunset colors:  'Lighthouse Purple' and 'Victoria' salvia, 'Double Deep Salmon' and 'Coral Pink' Profusion zinnias, and 'Arrow Orange' snapdragons.

I included several purple fountain grasses (Pennisetum), but they took a long time to grow to a large enough size to make much of an impact.

Here's one more shot of this area.  I love how this color scheme turned out.

The east rectangle raised bed was planted in 'Bermuda Beach' and 'Mini White' supertunias, 'Royale Iced Cherry' and 'Royale Cherryburst' superbenas, and silver licorice vine.  The warm pinks looked great together at planting, but then the 'Bermuda Beach' petunias seemed to revert back to a cooler pink.  Or perhaps 'Vista Bubblegum' reseeded from last year?  It's a bit of a mystery.

The south arc was planted less closely this year after I received feedback that it looked too overgrown last year (we had a hot summer in 2016 and the zinnias grew more vigorously than ever before).  In this photo I think it looks too sparse, but if our summer had been as long and hot as the last one, these plants would have filled in better.  That's the excitement of working with nature, as you never know what surprises are in store.

Here's one more shot of that area.  I already made the plan for next year's annuals and turned it in to our grower so she can order seeds for next spring.  It's fun to tweak the color schemes each year and try out some new plants.

August 30, 2017

The Last Lily of Summer

Crimson Lilium speciosum rubrum have been blooming this month in the main backyard flower bed.  Their stalks are taller than me, and their fragrance is divine.

They nod on the stem, so it's a good thing the main stalk is so tall.

In bloom nearby are 'Miss Molly' butterfly bushes, Russian sage (Peroskvia), 'Rozanne' hardy geraniums and 'Ava' hummingbird mint (Agastache).  The hummingbird mint is visited every day by two or three hummingbirds, and numerous butterflies congregate on the butterfly bushes.

I've ordered similar 'Miss Feya' lily bulbs to plant this fall to add to the display next summer.  August isn't the best time for finding flowers in my garden, so I'm happy to have one area with plenty of blooms.

The 'Royal Purple' smoke bush (Cotinus coggryia) adds beautiful color, though I wonder if annual pruning will keep it small enough once it's fully established.  I'll find out in a few years, I guess.

August 12, 2017

Before and After Kitchen Remodel and Dining Room Addition

Our down-to-the-studs kitchen remodel and dining room addition were completed after nine months of work (including seven weeks without a kitchen, during which time we hosted family for Christmas!) instead of the promised two and a half months.  And yes, it was over budget as well, but we're happy with the results.  The photo above shows the view of the back of the house with the new dining room addition, patio and patio cover in place.

Here is a photo of the house before construction.

We had to have the old patio demolished and remove part of a flower bed to make space for the new patio.  The kids and I have been spending a lot of time eating, reading, chatting, or just sitting on the new back patio.  We can usually spot butterflies, dragonflies, many types of bees, hummingbirds and many other birds in the garden.  I was excited to add another dogwood tree after the project (middle of photo).  'Starlight' is a Rutgers hybrid and is known for its vigorous growth, columnar shape, and beautiful white flowers in spring.  I also planted a climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala petiolara) by the post at left that will eventually climb up and across the entire front of the patio cover.

The kitchen expanded during the remodel to take over the space where the dining area used to be.  I've been loving the new bar that seats the whole family, as it makes mealtimes much easier.  Unfortunately, in the months since it was finished I am the only member of the family who has demonstrated the ability to clean the mirror-like granite of all streaks.  But the Blue Pearl granite is so pretty that I don't mind too much.

We were blessed to have our neighbor, Nicki, design the layout and cabinets while she was working for Canyon Creek Cabinets.  I am sensitive to offgassing chemicals, and I was relieved that these high quality cabinets did not make me sick.

This is the same view of the old kitchen.  It wasn't bad before, but the new arrangement offers a lot more storage and room for all the growing bodies in this house.

The new dining room has windows on three walls so we can enjoy garden views and air conditioning while dining.

This was the old dining space.  We often host extended family gatherings, and we made it work with folding tables extending into the living room.  Now we can fit fourteen at the new dining table (if we squeeze kids onto benches) plus six more at the bar.  We've already used the table at max capacity and it was a fun meal (come visit with your families anytime, Melissa and Ashley).

Here's the view while standing in the new pocket door opening.  This year my three kids in piano lessons are supposed to practice for two and a quarter hours each day in total, and their teacher says they only need to practice on the days that they eat!  Sometimes it's really, really nice to close the pocket door and reduce the sound level while I'm cooking dinner.  This shows a good view of the Montagna Rustic Bay ceramic tile flooring that looks like wood.

This is nearly the same angle from before construction.  What a relief it is to have finished this big project!  Of course other projects are still in progress . . . we had three floods in the basement this spring and had to replace moldy carpet and drywall, and after switching the trim on the main level from wood to white, we are slowly planning to replace trim on the other levels as well.  Honestly, it would have been less stressful to move to a different home, but the garden wouldn't move well and we love our location.  We're looking forward to enjoying this nice space with our family for many years to come.